CATO OP-EDS

Chelsea Follett This week, viewers will get another chance to submerge themselves in the dystopian future created by Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the novel about the government forcing women to bear children to counter a declining population, resonated with audiences across the world. However, the reverse Handmaid’s Tale — the idea of coercing people to have fewer children — ought to generate just as much outrage. Particularly when that coercion is justified by baseless fears. Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich plays on those fears. His apocalyptic warnings, which started almost 50 years ago, persist despite decades of evidence proving them wrong. Just recently, Ehrlich said the collapse of civilization is a “near certainty” within decades. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” he warned in 1969. Then he said, “Sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come. And by ‘the end’ I mean an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.” Don’t believe alarmists saying human population has grown too large, they’ve been wrong for 50 years. Unfortunately, many people still believe him. His 1968 best-seller The Population Bomb incited global panic with claims that out-of-control population growth would deplete resources, bringing about widespread starvation. Ehrlich’s jeremiad led to human rights abuses around the world, [...]
Tue, Apr 24, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ryan Bourne News over the weekend that Theresa May might be considering a customs union with the EU post-Brexit was baffling to life-long Eurosceptics. For years before the referendum, would-be Brexiteers painted two economic pictures of life outside the EU. The first was a Thatcherite Britain — one seeking to reverse swathes of EU regulation and immigration law, cut tariffs, and pursue global free trade. The second was merely “political independence”, leaving the EU’s governance structures, but remaining within the Single Market. The customs union has become a political, rather than economic, fault line - and one skillfully exploited by the EU and unreconciled Remainers. Yes, these two visions contradicted sharply, but neither considered it desirable to remain within a formal customs union. The costs in terms of lost control were too high. Customs union membership prevents not just independent free trade agreements, but other commercial partnerships, independent tariff setting, and regaining our WTO seat, which is why there was such outrage at the prospect that such a model might still be up for consideration. Since the latest rumours surfaced, Number 10 has come out and reiterated its commitment to leaving the customs union. But the question remains: why is this issue even being debated? For all the hand-waving by vested interests, it’s certainly not for economic reasons. Look at Switzerland, a country outside the customs union that manages [...]
Tue, Apr 24, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
William J. Luther On the evening of November 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that 500-rupee notes (valued at about $8) and 1,000-rupee notes would become “worthless pieces of paper” at midnight, no longer recognized as legal tender. The stated goal of his demonetization plan: to catch criminals. The government offered a brief window in which old notes could be swapped for new ones, with the idea that everyone from human traffickers to tax cheats would have to show up at banks with vast sums of money and confess their sins or lose the value of their cash holdings altogether. The costs of this scheme were large. At the time of the announcement, demonetized notes accounted for 86 percent of all currency in circulation. As George Mason economist Lawrence H. White has written, “A serious currency shortage immediately arose, with predictable consequences. Honest wage laborers in the huge cash economy went unpaid, honest construction projects came to a standstill, honest shopkeepers saw sales dry up, and honest businesses failed. Honest people wasted billions of hours waiting in queues to exchange old notes for the trickle of new notes.” Growth in the country’s gross domestic product fell from an annualized rate of 7.37 percent in the quarter prior to the announcement to an average annualized rate of 6.06 percent in the first [...]
Tue, Apr 24, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Eric Gomez The diplomatic events of the decade are rapidly approaching. Later this week, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea will meet with Kim Jong-un at Panmunjom for the first inter-Korean summit since 2007. Shortly thereafter Kim will have a summit with President Donald Trump—the first such meeting between the sitting leaders of North Korea and the United States. A steady stream of news and speculation has preceded the summits. Over the course of three days last week, Trump revealed that CIA director Mike Pompeo made a secret visit to North Korea around Easter to speak with Kim about the upcoming U.S. summit, South Korea announced that it is working to negotiate a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War, and Moon suggested that Kim would not demand the removal of U.S. troops from South Korea in return for denuclearization. For analysts and lay observers alike these developments raise some big questions that need to be answered in the two upcoming summits. What Is Kim Jong-un Prepared to Give Up? The most important issue up for discussion at the two summits is the denuclearization of North Korea. Kim indicated a general willingness to discuss denuclearization in talks with South Korean officials after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, but he has not provided many details about what denuclearization means for the North in the context [...]
Mon, Apr 23, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Christopher A. Preble The news that Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, met in secret with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, over the Easter weekend has renewed hope that one of the world’s most dangerous standoffs might be resolved without war. On Saturday, in fact, Mr. Kim announced that he would halt nuclear tests. Mr. Pompeo’s trip was surprising for many reasons: he went personally, it was kept a secret and it was revealed at a time when others were questioning his fitness to become secretary of state. But it says something about America’s place in world affairs that at least one aspect of the trip was no surprise at all: that Americans are deeply, centrally involved in a dispute involving two sovereign countries thousands of miles away from Washington. Of course, there’s a good historical reason. Under American tutelage, South Korea eventually evolved from a desperately poor autocracy to one of the wealthiest democracies on the planet. American taxpayers continue to spend billions of dollars a year to help maintain regional security. A similar process played out in other parts of Asia and in Europe, where the American security umbrella, including tens of thousands of military personnel, provided room for those countries’ leaders to build strong democracies and economies. American leaders argued that such policies served the cause of global peace and security. [...]
Sat, Apr 21, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ryan Bourne It slipped under the radar, but the UK has almost hit Tony Blair’s 1999 university pledge. The higher education participation rate (an estimate of those who would have gone to university by age 30) was 49pc in 2016, a whisker from Blair’s 50pc aim. In 1993, just 13pc of those in their late 20s had degrees. Conventional educational wisdom heralds this trend as a boon for Britain. An army of skilled graduates will surely be utilised in highly productive jobs, propelling economic growth for the future. Emboldened, education expert Nick Hillman last year proposed targeting a 70pc participation rate by 2035. For George Mason University economics professor Bryan Caplan, this trend wouldn’t elicit celebration. In a provocative new book, The Case Against Education, he suggests that university, while individually profitable, is largely a waste of time and resources from a societal perspective. In a provocative new book, Bryan Caplan suggests that university, while individually profitable, is largely a waste of time and resources from a societal perspective. His story is straightforward. There is a significant graduate earnings premium. Across the OECD, adults with a tertiary degree earn on average 56pc more than those who merely finish secondary education. In the US, on which his book is focused, it’s 73pc. A 2016 Institute for Fiscal Studies report on the UK found graduates in their late [...]
Fri, Apr 20, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
David Bier President Trump’s “travel ban,” which the Supreme Court will review next week, seeks to limit immigration from certain countries because, as the president contends, our vetting of immigrants has not been “extreme” enough to keep radicalized offenders out of the United States. Despite this assumption, Trump required a report to determine whether his claim was actually true. In the nearly 15 months since then, his administration has failed to complete its report, stating this past January that it lacks the relevant information. In light of this failure, I independently completed the study that Trump asked for. Its conclusions undermine his claims. Vetting failures are extremely rare and becoming rarer. Moreover, after vetting improvements were implemented following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, only one vetting failure resulted in a deadly attack, causing just 9 percent of terrorism deaths since the attacks. U.S.-born Americans killed 82 percent of the terrorism victims since 9/11. The precipitous decline in vetting failures after 9/11 proves the government can keep Americans safe without banning certain nationalities or categories of immigrants. I defined “vetting failure” as broadly as possible to include any foreigner who harbors terrorist associations or sympathies before receiving permission to enter the United States, who goes on to commit a terrorism crime. I excluded offenders born in the United States, those who entered illegally, those extradited to [...]
Thu, Apr 19, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
David A. Hyman and Charles Silver If you’re like us, your health insurance coverage includes a prescription drug benefit. The benefit isn’t free, but you’re willing to pay for it because it saves you money every time you have a prescription filled. You are responsible for your co-pay, and your insurer pays the rest. At least, that’s how it is supposed to work. But the truth is that your insurer often pays nothing. Your co-pay is all the pharmacy receives. Not only that, but your co-pay often exceeds the amount that someone without insurance would have paid for the drug. That’s right: People who don’t have insurance are paying less than you are for the same drug. In 2017, Texas passed legislation banning this practice for health insurance contracts issued or renewed after January 1, 2018. Presumably, the legislature acted because lots of Texans were overpaying for drugs. How many? Until recently, no one really knew. The scam works by taking advantage of consumers’ naive belief that their insurers are watching out for them. But researchers at USC’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics just filled in these blanks, and the numbers are big. They found that overpayments occurred on 23 percent of all prescription drug sales. The overpayment rate for generic drugs (28 percent) was substantially higher. And for the twenty most popular [...]
Thu, Apr 19, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Patrick G. Eddington The Lone Star state has a rich history and cultural heritage, with many firsts to its credit. But there’s one not-so-glorious distinction bestowed upon this state by the federal government: Texas has more internal Customs and Border Protection checkpoints than any other state in the Union. A new Cato Institute project, Checkpoint: America, provides the maps and related information to prove it. What it also provides are accounts of the naked brutality and disregard for constitutional rights that are also a feature of these checkpoints. The case of Greg Rosenberg is a prime example. Rosenberg immigrated to the United States from Armenia during the first decade of the 21st century. Rosenberg grew up in what was then Soviet-occupied Armenia. Internal checkpoints were a key means of repression and control, just one of the many things Greg thought he’d left behind when he came to America and started his life here as a long-haul truck driver. As chronicled by ReasonTV, Greg found out the hard way that Customs and Border Protection agents could be just as abusive as their former Soviet counterparts. In late September 2014, Rosenberg found himself on Interstate 35 near Laredo. Like every other motorist, he was forced to pull over at the local Customs and Border Protection checkpoint. Rosenberg’s complexion, and his accented English immediately drew the [...]
Thu, Apr 19, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Daniel J. Ikenson Donald Trump was not the first U.S. presidential candidate to blame foreigners and their trade practices for America’s real and imagined economic woes. That is a time-honored tradition of U.S. electoral politics. But Trump is the first president — at least since Congress began delegating parts of its trade policymaking authority to the executive branch a century ago — to actually believe that protectionism will make America great. That alone makes trade war likely. Add a heaping sense of nationalist grievance and trade war appears imminent. Behind President Trump’s faith in protectionism is a stubborn belief that trade is not a cooperative, mutually beneficial activity conducted between consenting parties, but a zero-sum game with distinct winners and losers. He perceives U.S. trade deficits as proof that we are losing at trade and we are losing because the foreigners cheat. That perspective departs significantly from the underlying premise of U.S. policy spanning 84 years and 13 presidencies — that trade is a win-win proposition. After a year in office during which the president’s trade policy actions were far less strident than the tone of his rhetoric, the second year began with the president announcing tariffs on solar panel components and tariff rate quotas on washing machines under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 (the “Safeguards” law). Although the economic rationale [...]
Thu, Apr 19, 2018
Source: OP-EDS

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